OTD in History… June 17, 1972, Five men break into DNC at Watergate launching a crisis and the fall of President Nixon

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OTD in History… June 17, 1972, Five men break into DNC at Watergate launching a crisis and the fall of President Nixon

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history… June 17, 1973, five men broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, DC. At 2:30 a.m. on that day, the country and the fate of Richard Nixon would forever change. The burglars were members of the White House covert unit the plumbers, former CIA agent James McCord led the four burglars on their mission. From the start, the White House began their cover-up initially calling it a “third-rate burglary.” The burglary and then its elaborate cover-up by the Nixon’s White House would plunge the country into a Constitutional crisis and be the “beginning of the end” for Nixon.

The Watergate break-in had its originals in the publication of Pentagon Papers. Michael Genovese in his book The Watergate Crisis noted, Special Assistant to the President “Charles Colson has called the events surrounding the Pentagon Papers issue “the beginning of the end.” (Genovese, 15) The Pentagon Papers were a 47-volume history of the Vietnam conflict covering the last four administrations. Disgruntled Defense Department analyst Daniel Ellsberg, who opposed the Vietnam War, stole the “top-secret” documents and then distributed the papers to the New York Times, and the Washington Post. The Nixon administration opposed their publication and sought to stop their publication, the issue quickly moved up to the Supreme Court.

A year earlier on July 17, 1971, days after the New York Times broke the Pentagon Papers story, Nixon met in the Oval Office with Chief-of-Staff H.R. Haldeman, Nixon counsel and Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs John Ehrlichman and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger discussed the need to discredit Ellsberg, who Kissinger deemed a “threat to national security.” They decided the White House needed to take matters into their hands, and started would be the plumbers, a covert intelligence gathering operation. They chose David Young, a former NSC associate, and Egil “Bud” Krogh, Domestic Council staff lawyer. Young and Krough would recruit CIA & FBI agents E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, the Watergate masterminds.

A year later, in the early hours of June 17, 1972, Frank Wills, the Watergate security guard uncovered a piece tape on the lock of a door, he removed it, but when he returned and found the tape a second time, he called the police. Wills told ABC News in 1973 about the tape, “The tape, at first, didn’t seem to be anything unusual… At that time, I became a little suspicious.” McCord placed the tape on the lock in the basement and eighth and sixth floors. The remaining men, who took part in the break-in were Bernard Barker, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez and Frank Sturgis. As part of Operation Gemstone, the Plumbers were gathering “intelligence” on “Nixon opponents.” The five were supposed to bug the DNC offices and take photographs of sensitive and key documents. Two weeks earlier, bugs were installed but did not work, and that night they were replacing them.

Two plain-clothes D.C. Metro police officers John Barrett and Paul Leeper showed up. The Police discovered the five men on the sixth floor of the building in the DNC offices. Had the police officers been in uniform and arrive in a police car, the situation might have been different. Lookout Alfred Baldwin might have noticed and alerted the burglars earlier allowing for their escape. Instead, he waited too long and radioed Liddy too late. The police discovered them after one had hit their arm against a glass partition making a noise.

The burglars were wearing suits and ties. Officer Leeper recounted to ABC News, “McCord said to me twice, ‘Are you the police?’ And I thought, ‘Why is he asking such a silly question? Of course, we’re the police.’ I don’t think I’ve ever locked up another burglar that was dressed in a suit and tie and was in middle age.” According to Genovese They “were wearing rubber gloves, carrying walkie-talkies, electronic eavesdropping equipment, cameras and other tools.” Officer Barrett also indicated they had “bugging devices … tear gas pens, many, many rolls of film … locksmith tools … thousands of dollars in hundred dollar bills consecutively ordered.” None of the burglars gave the police their real names or ages when they were arrested, they had been using aliases to rent their two Watergate hotel rooms. Standing guard at the Howard Johnson Hotel across from the Watergate were Hunt and Liddy. The police arrested them as well.

There were connections to the White House. Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein determined the connections to the President, and that McCord was the security director for the Committee to Reelect the President CREEP. The FBI’s investigation determined Hunt had a closer connection to the White House. Their 1974 report found, “On June 17, 1972 [the date of the break-in], Hunt’s probable involvement in the Watergate incident came to the WFO’s [Washington Field Office] attention because of his country club bill found in the Watergate Hotel and because of information contained in [the address book of Bernard] Barker [another of the burglars]. WFO, about 6:00–7:00 pm, June 17, 1972, contacted [Alexander] Butterfield of the White House and learned that Hunt had previously worked as a consultant at the White House. Butterfield was told Hunt may be involved in the DNCH [Democratic National Committee Headquarters] burglary. On June 18, 1972, Butterfield recontacted WFO and advised that Hunt had worked for Charles Colson, Special Counsel to the President.” The White House denied the connections, but the suspects had White House documents.

Preeminent Watergate historian Stanley I. Kutler in his book The Wars of Watergate: The Last Crisis of Richard Nixon argued that Nixon was “at the center of Watergate,” and “The wars of Watergate are rooted in the lifelong personality of Richard Nixon. Kutler noted the break-in “clearly was a political operation,” with Attorney General John Mitchell working on a cover-up just “several hours after the news of the burglars’ arrest broke.” Kutler viewed the break-in and subsequent cover-up, as “its planning, its flawed execution, even its motives-ultimately must be seen as part of a behavior pattern characterizing the president and his aides that stretched back to the beginning of the Nixon Administration.” (Kutler, 208, 216, 209)

On Jan. 15, 1973, Barker, Sturgis, Gonzale, Martinez and pleaded guilty to conspiracy, burglary, and wiretapping charges and served over a year in prison, while Hunt served 33 months. Liddy and McCord took their chances with a trial both were convicted on Jan. 30, 1973, Liddy served 52 months in prison, in 1977, President Jimmy Carter “commuted his sentence.” McCord served the least time, four months. Federal Judge John J. Sirica shortened his sentence after he claimed there was a “cover-up” that involved senior White House officials.

Many historians see Watergate as the nation’s worse political scandal while clearly placing the blame on Nixon for the downfall of his presidency. Kutler concludes, The Watergate scandal “consumed and convulsed the nation and tested the constitutional and political system as it had not been tested since the Civil War.” (Kutler, 616) London Times Washington Bureau Chief Fred Emery in his book Watergate: The Corruption of American Politics and the Fall of Richard Nixon called Watergate “a self-destruct tragedy for Richard Nixon.” Emery determines that Watergate “was a pattern of malfeasance by him and his men that led to the damning — and bipartisan — vote in Congress.” (Emery, xii)

Historian Joan Hoff in her revisionist history, Nixon Reconsidered, viewed Nixon’s presidency as “more than Watergate,” and “Watergate more than Nixon.” Hoff believes the scandal was a product of the times, concluding, “Watergate was a disaster waiting to happen, given the decline in political ethics and practices during the Cold War.” (Hoff, 341) While historian Allan Lichtman notes Watergate “was a widespread conspiracy. Several dozen people went to jail, including other very high officials of the [Nixon] campaign and of the Nixon administration. So a lot of people who should have known much better got sucked into this terrible scandal and it is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions because in many ways Richard Nixon did a lot for the country.”

Three days later, on June 20, Nixon was speaking with Colson in the Oval Office and both agreed, “This is going to be forgotten.” In the short time, the break-in was forgotten, Nixon won reelection with a landslide. The investigative reporting by Washington Post reports, Woodward and Bernstein, whose story would be recounted in their book and then the movie “All The President’s Men” would soon unravel the massive cover-up leading back to the Nixon White House.

The Watergate scandal would consume the nation, and Nixon’s presidency taking down most of the administration’s high ranking officials and sending them to prison. After the revelation of Nixon’s elaborate taping system, and fight over handing over the tapes, the president would lose support from his party. Just over two years later, Nixon facing sure impeachment chose instead, to become the first president to resign from the office. Nixon’s successor Gerald Ford declared upon taking office, “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.” A month later, Ford pardoned Nixon, and in time, Nixon’s image rehabilitated but the stain of Watergate remained on the nation and Nixon.

SOURCES & READ MORE

Emery, Fred. Watergate: The Corruption and Fall of Richard Nixon. London: Pimlico, 1995.

Genovese, Michael A. The Watergate Crisis. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1999.

Hoff, Joan. Nixon Reconsidered. New York: BasicBooks, 1998.

Kutler, Stanley I. The Wars of Watergate: The Last Crisis of Richard Nixon. New York: Norton, 1992.

Kutler, Stanley I. Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes. London: Touchstone, 1999.

Small, Melvin. A Companion to Richard M. Nixon. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell, 2011.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

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OTD in History… June 12, 1987, President Reagan calls on Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall

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OTD in History… June 12, 1987, President Reagan calls on Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan delivered a speech at the Brandenburg Gate and called upon the Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “Tear down this wall!” in what became known as Berlin Wall Speech. The speech challenged Gorbachev but was controversial in Berlin and among his speech writing team. Reagan had made two previous references to the Berlin Wall in 1982 and 1986, but this was the boldest of his references. The speech is one of Reagan’s most famous anti-Communist speeches and a symbol of the start of ending the Cold War.

Berliner’s protested Reagan’s arrival in West Germany, with 50,000 opposing his visit to the country. Earlier most of his speechwriters opposed the controversial line, concerned that it might heighten tensions with the Soviet Union, however, junior speechwriter Peter Robinson researched the mood in Germany and believed they wanted the wall down. Soviets erected the Berlin Wall in 1961 to prevent East Berliners in the Soviet bloc escaping to the Western-controlled half of the city.

In a May 18, meeting with his speechwriters, the line had fierce opposition from White House Chief of Staff Howard Baker and National Security Advisor Colin Powell, while Reagan was noted as saying, the speech was a “good solid draft” and said about the line, “I think we’ll leave it in.” Robinson claims to have gotten his inspiration from Ingeborg Elz of West Berlin at a dinner, who had said, “If this man Gorbachev is serious with his talk of Glasnost and perestroika he can prove it by getting rid of this wall.” Chief speechwriter Anthony Dolan counters Robinson’s recollection and insists Reagan thought of the line, not Robinson.

Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan arrived in West Berlin on June 12, to protests. They first visited the Reichstag, where they stood on the gallery observing the wall, before heading to the Brandenburg Gate for the speech at 2 p.m. Reagan chose the gate because both President John F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter delivered speeches in the same spot. Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in 1963 was the better-known coming just months after the wall was erected and is considered “one of Kennedy’s best.”

Reagan’s speech “emphasiz[ed] freedom and reunification,” and challenged Gorbachev to show good faith in negotiations and challenged him to get rid of the wall, calling on him to do so twice in the speech.

The first time with the famous line:

“We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

The second, Reagan stated he foresees the inevitability of the wall falling:

“As I looked out a moment ago from the Reichstag, that embodiment of German unity, I noticed words crudely spray-painted upon the wall, perhaps by a young Berliner, ‘This wall will fall. Beliefs become reality.’ Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom.”

The speech’s focus, however, was to get Gorbachev at the negotiating table to reduce nuclear arms, particularly SS-20 weapons. As Reagan brought up, saying, “Not merely of limiting the growth of arms, but of eliminating, for the first time, an entire class of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth.”

The speech was not given the weight at the time as it does in historical context. When the wall fell on November 9, 1989, and Berlin reunified on October 3, 1990, Reagan’s call and foreshadowing had greater significance. Some journalists have been critical of the speech’s impact, however, New York Times best-selling author James Mann, believes it did have an impact on ending the Cold War. Mann argued in his 2007 New York Times article “Tear Down That Myth,” Reagan “wasn’t trying to land a knockout blow on the Soviet regime, nor was he engaging in mere political theater. He was instead doing something else on that damp day in Berlin… — he was helping to set the terms for the end of the cold war.”

READ MORE

Matlock, Jack F. Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended. New York: Random House, 2004.

Ratnesar, Romesh. Tear Down This Wall: A City, a President, and the Speech That Ended the Cold War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

Remarks on East-West Relations at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin
June 12, 1987

Thank you very much. Chancellor Kohl, Governing Mayor Diepgen, ladies and gentlemen:

Twenty four years ago, President John F. Kennedy visited Berlin, speaking to the people of this city and the world at the city hall. Well, since then two other presidents have come, each in his turn, to Berlin. And today I, myself, make my second visit to your city.

We come to Berlin, we American Presidents, because it’s our duty to speak, in this place, of freedom. But I must confess, we’re drawn here by other things as well: by the feeling of history in this city, more than 500 years older than our own nation; by the beauty of the Grunewald and the Tiergarten; most of all, by your courage and determination. Perhaps the composer, Paul Lincke, understood something about American Presidents. You see, like so many Presidents before me, I come here today because wherever I go, whatever I do: “Ich hab noch einen koffer in Berlin.” [I still have a suitcase in Berlin.]

Our gathering today is being broadcast throughout Western Europe and North America. I understand that it is being seen and heard as well in the East. To those listening throughout Eastern Europe, I extend my warmest greetings and the good will of the American people. To those listening in East Berlin, a special word: Although I cannot be with you, I address my remarks to you just as surely as to those standing here before me. For I join you, as I join your fellow countrymen in the West, in this firm, this unalterable belief: Es gibt nur ein Berlin. [There is only one Berlin.]

Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system of barriers that divides the entire continent of Europe. From the Baltic, south, those barriers cut across Germany in a gash of barbed wire, concrete, dog runs, and guardtowers. Farther south, there may be no visible, no obvious wall. But there remain armed guards and checkpoints all the same–still a restriction on the right to travel, still an instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state. Yet it is here in Berlin where the wall emerges most clearly; here, cutting across your city, where the news photo and the television screen have imprinted this brutal division of a continent upon the mind of the world. Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German, separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar.

President von Weizsacker has said: “The German question is open as long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed.” Today I say: As long as this gate is closed, as long as this scar of a wall is permitted to stand, it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind. Yet I do not come here to lament. For I find in Berlin a message of hope, even in the shadow of this wall, a message of triumph.

In this season of spring in 1945, the people of Berlin emerged from their air raid shelters to find devastation. Thousands of miles away, the people of the United States reached out to help. And in 1947 Secretary of State–as you’ve been told–George Marshall announced the creation of what would become known as the Marshall plan. Speaking precisely 40 years ago this month, he said: “Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos.”

In the Reichstag a few moments ago, I saw a display commemorating this 40th anniversary of the Marshall plan. I was struck by the sign on a burnt-out, gutted structure that was being rebuilt. I understand that Berliners of my own generation can remember seeing signs like it dotted throughout the Western sectors of the city. The sign read simply: “The Marshall plan is helping here to strengthen the free world.” A strong, free world in the West, that dream became real. Japan rose from ruin to become an economic giant. Italy, France, Belgium–virtually every nation in Western Europe saw political and economic rebirth; the European Community was founded.

In West Germany and here in Berlin, there took place an economic miracle, the Wirtschaftswunder. Adenauer, Erhard, Reuter, and other leaders understood the practical importance of liberty–that just as truth can flourish only when the journalist is given freedom of speech, so prosperity can come about only when the farmer and businessman enjoy economic freedom. The German leaders reduced tariffs, expanded free trade, lowered taxes. From 1950 to 1960 alone, the standard of living in West Germany and Berlin doubled.

Where four decades ago there was rubble, today in West Berlin there is the greatest industrial output of any city in Germany-busy office blocks, fine homes and apartments, proud avenues, and the spreading lawns of park land. Where a city’s culture seemed to have been destroyed, today there are two great universities, orchestras and an opera, countless theaters, and museums. Where there was want, today there’s abundance–food, clothing, automobiles-the wonderful goods of the Ku’damm. From devastation, from utter ruin, you Berliners have, in freedom, rebuilt a city that once again ranks as one of the greatest on Earth. The Soviets may have had other plans. But, my friends, there were a few things the Soviets didn’t count on Berliner herz, Berliner humor, ja, und Berliner schnauze. [Berliner heart, Berliner humor, yes, and a Berliner schnauze.] [Laughter]

In the 1950’s, Khrushchev predicted: “We will bury you.” But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well-being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind-too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.

And now the Soviets themselves may, in a limited way, be coming to understand the importance of freedom. We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. Some political prisoners have been released. Certain foreign news broadcasts are no longer being jammed. Some economic enterprises have been permitted to operate with greater freedom from state control. Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures, intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it? We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace.

There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

I understand the fear of war and the pain of division that afflict this continent–and I pledge to you my country’s efforts to help overcome these burdens. To be sure, we in the West must resist Soviet expansion. So we must maintain defenses of unassailable strength. Yet we seek peace; so we must strive to reduce arms on both sides. Beginning 10 years ago, the Soviets challenged the Western alliance with a grave new threat, hundreds of new and more deadly SS-20 nuclear missiles, capable of-striking every capital in Europe. The Western alliance responded by committing itself to a counterdeployment unless the Soviets agreed to negotiate a better solution; namely, the elimination of such weapons on both sides. For many months, the Soviets refused to bargain in earnestness. As the alliance, in turn, prepared to go forward with its counterdeployment, there were difficult days–days of protests like those during my 1982 visit to this city–and the Soviets later walked away from the table.

But through it all, the alliance held firm. And I invite those who protested then–I invite those who protest today–to mark this fact: Because we remained strong, the Soviets came back to the table. And because we remained strong, today we have within reach the possibility, not merely of limiting the growth of arms, but of eliminating, for the first time, an entire class of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth. As I speak, NATO ministers are meeting in Iceland to review the progress of our proposals for eliminating these weapons. At the talks in Geneva, we have also proposed deep cuts in strategic offensive weapons. And the Western allies have likewise made far-reaching proposals to reduce the danger of conventional war and to place a total ban on chemical weapons.

While we pursue these arms reductions, I pledge to you that we will maintain the capacity to deter Soviet aggression at any level at which it might occur. And in cooperation with many of our allies, the United States is pursuing the Strategic Defense Initiative-research to base deterrence not on the threat of offensive retaliation, but on defenses that truly defend; on systems, in short, that will not target populations, but shield them. By these means we seek to increase the safety of Europe and all the world. But we must remember a crucial fact: East and West do not mistrust each other because we are armed; we are armed because we mistrust each other. And our differences are not about weapons but about liberty. When President Kennedy spoke at the City Hall those 24 years ago, freedom was encircled, Berlin was under siege. And today, despite all the pressures upon this city, Berlin stands secure in its liberty. And freedom itself is transforming the globe.

In the Philippines, in South and Central America, democracy has been given a rebirth. Throughout the Pacific, free markets are working miracle after miracle of economic growth. In the industrialized nations, a technological revolution is taking place–a revolution marked by rapid, dramatic advances in computers and telecommunications.

In Europe, only one nation and those it controls refuse to join the community of freedom. Yet in this age of redoubled economic growth, of information and innovation, the Soviet Union faces a choice: It must make fundamental changes, or it will become obsolete. Today thus represents a moment of hope. We in the West stand ready to cooperate with the East to promote true openness, to break down barriers that separate people, to create a safer, freer world.

And surely there is no better place than Berlin, the meeting place of East and West, to make a start. Free people of Berlin: Today, as in the past, the United States stands for the strict observance and full implementation of all parts of the Four Power Agreement of 1971. Let us use this occasion, the 750th anniversary of this city, to usher in a new era, to seek a still fuller, richer life for the Berlin of the future. Together, let us maintain and develop the ties between the Federal Republic and the Western sectors of Berlin, which is permitted by the 1971 agreement.

And I invite Mr. Gorbachev: Let us work to bring the Eastern and Western parts of the city closer together, so that all the inhabitants of all Berlin can enjoy the benefits that come with life in one of the great cities of the world. To open Berlin still further to all Europe, East and West, let us expand the vital air access to this city, finding ways of making commercial air service to Berlin more convenient, more comfortable, and more economical. We look to the day when West Berlin can become one of the chief aviation hubs in all central Europe.

With our French and British partners, the United States is prepared to help bring international meetings to Berlin. It would be only fitting for Berlin to serve as the site of United Nations meetings, or world conferences on human rights and arms control or other issues that call for international cooperation. There is no better way to establish hope for the future than to enlighten young minds, and we would be honored to sponsor summer youth exchanges, cultural events, and other programs for young Berliners from the East. Our French and British friends, I’m certain, will do the same. And it’s my hope that an authority can be found in East Berlin to sponsor visits from young people of the Western sectors.

One final proposal, one close to my heart: Sport represents a source of enjoyment and ennoblement, and you many have noted that the Republic of Korea–South Korea–has offered to permit certain events of the 1988 Olympics to take place in the North. International sports competitions of all kinds could take place in both parts of this city. And what better way to demonstrate to the world the openness of this city than to offer in some future year to hold the Olympic games here in Berlin, East and West?

In these four decades, as I have said, you Berliners have built a great city. You’ve done so in spite of threats–the Soviet attempts to impose the East-mark, the blockade. Today the city thrives in spite of the challenges implicit in the very presence of this wall. What keeps you here? Certainly there’s a great deal to be said for your fortitude, for your defiant courage. But I believe there’s something deeper, something that involves Berlin’s whole look and feel and way of life–not mere sentiment. No one could live long in Berlin without being completely disabused of illusions. Something instead, that has seen the difficulties of life in Berlin but chose to accept them, that continues to build this good and proud city in contrast to a surrounding totalitarian presence that refuses to release human energies or aspirations. Something that speaks with a powerful voice of affirmation, that says yes to this city, yes to the future, yes to freedom. In a word, I would submit that what keeps you in Berlin is love–love both profound and abiding.

Perhaps this gets to the root of the matter, to the most fundamental distinction of all between East and West. The totalitarian world produces backwardness because it does such violence to the spirit, thwarting the human impulse to create, to enjoy, to worship. The totalitarian world finds even symbols of love and of worship an affront. Years ago, before the East Germans began rebuilding their churches, they erected a secular structure: the television tower at Alexander Platz. Virtually ever since, the authorities have been working to correct what they view as the tower’s one major flaw, treating the glass sphere at the top with paints and chemicals of every kind. Yet even today when the Sun strikes that sphere–that sphere that towers over all Berlin–the light makes the sign of the cross. There in Berlin, like the city itself, symbols of love, symbols of worship, cannot be suppressed.

As I looked out a moment ago from the Reichstag, that embodiment of German unity, I noticed words crudely spray-painted upon the wall, perhaps by a young Berliner, “This wall will fall. Beliefs become reality.” Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom.

And I would like, before I close, to say one word. I have read, and I have been questioned since I’ve been here about certain demonstrations against my coming. And I would like to say just one thing, and to those who demonstrate so. I wonder if they have ever asked themselves that if they should have the kind of government they apparently seek, no one would ever be able to do what they’re doing again.
Thank you and God bless you all.

OTD in History… June 11, 1963, President Kennedy orders the National Guard to desegregate the University of Alabama

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OTD in History… June 11, 1963, President Kennedy orders the National Guard to desegregate the University of Alabama

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy orders the National Guard to force Alabama Governor Wallace to end his blockade and desegregate the University of Alabama. June 11, 1963, was a busy day for the civil rights movement. Early in the day, Alabama Governor and strong segregationist George Wallace delivered his “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door Speech.” Alabama was the only state that still did not desegregate their schools, Democrat Wallace entered office earlier in the year promising “Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!” Wallace was unyielding refusing to negotiate and compromise with the Kennedy Administration, hoping instead for a confrontation that would elevate his status, while diminishing Kennedy in the Deep South.

Wallace physically prevented two African American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from completing their registration at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Wallace literally stood in front of the school’s Foster Auditorium door blocking Malone and Hood from entering. Wallace attempted to prevent the university’s integration despite a court order the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

When Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach asked Wallace to move aside, he refused. Instead, Wallace delivered his infamous speech on states’ rights. Wallace called the desegregation an “unwelcomed, unwarranted and force-induced intrusion upon the campus” and “a frightful example of the expression of the rights, privileges, and sovereignty of this state.” (Brinkley, 109) Katzenbach then contacted President Kennedy.

President Kennedy again was forced to federalize the Alabama National Guard Executive Order 11111 to end the conflict. Kennedy issued Presidential Proclamation 3542 to force Wallace to comply and allow the students to enter the university building and complete their registration. Four hours later Wallace finally moved aside after being by Guard General Henry Graham, allowing for the integration of the University. Wallace made national headlines upping his profile, but also forcing Kennedy’s hand that he had no choice left but to announce his intentions to introduce a civil rights bill to Congress.

SOURCES

Dallek, Robert. An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Co, 2003.

Dallek, Robert. John F. Kennedy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

 

Executive Order 11111—Providing Assistance for the Removal of Obstructions of Justice and Suppression of Unlawful Combinations Within the State of Alabama
June 11, 1963

WHEREAS on June 11, 1963, I issued Proclamation No. 3542, pursuant in part to the provisions of section 334 of Title 10, United States Code; and

WHEREAS the commands contained in that Proclamation have not been obeyed, and the unlawful obstructions of justice and combinations referred to therein continue:

NOW, THEREFORE, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, including Chapter 15 of Title 10 of the United States Code, particularly sections 332, 333 and 334 thereof, and section 301 of Title 3 of the United States Code, it is hereby ordered as follows:

SECTION 1. The Secretary of Defense is authorized and directed to take all appropriate steps to remove obstructions of justice in the State of Alabama, to enforce the laws of the United States within that State, including the orders of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama referred to in the said Proclamation, and to suppress unlawful assemblies, combinations, conspiracies and domestic violence which oppose or obstruct the execution of the laws of the United States or impede the course of justice under those laws within that State.

SEC. 2. In furtherance of the authorization and direction contained in section 1 hereof, the Secretary of Defense is authorized to use such of the Armed Forces of the United States as he may deem necessary.

SEC. 3. I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of Defense to call into the active military service of the United States, as he may deem appropriate to carry out the purposes of this order, any or all of the units of the Army National Guard and of the Air National Guard of the State of Alabama to serve in the active military service of the United States for an indefinite period and until relieved by appropriate orders. In carrying out the provisions of section 1, the Secretary of Defense is authorized to use the units, and members thereof, called into the active military service of the United States pursuant to this section.

SEC. 4. The Secretary of Defense is authorized to delegate to the Secretary of the Army or the Secretary of the Air Force, or both, any of the authority conferred upon him by this order.

JOHN F. KENNEDY
THE WHITE HOUSE,
June 11, 1963

OTD in History… June 11, 1963, President Kennedy addresses civil rights to the nation

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OTD in History… June 11, 1963, President Kennedy addresses civil rights to the nation

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

John F. Kennedy delivering the Civil Rights Address (Wikimedia Commons)

On This Day in History… June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy delivered a televised address on civil rights to the nation from the White House Oval Office paving the way for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Two days in June 1963 have been highlighted as part the pantheon of major turning points in American history. The recently published “Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours That Changed History” by award-winning journalist and Canadian political author Andrew Cohen in 2014 highlighted the importance of those two days to both the Civil Rights movement, the Cold War and the Kennedy presidency.

Cohen emphasized the magnitude of the events and particularly two speeches Kennedy delivered one on foreign policy at the commencement at American University and the other televised to the nations advancing civil rights. Cohen explained, “To the calendar, June 10 and June 11, 1963, was late spring; to history, it was high summer. Great forces converged and smaller ones emerged over these forty-eight hours, bracketed by two imperishable speeches. One produced an arms treaty, the first of the Cold War. The other produced a civil rights law, the most important of its time” (p. 19)

Cohen indicated the importance of those dates in the Kennedy Presidency, but a recent op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal by author Joel Engel went further. Engel in his article entitled “Three Days That Changed the World, Not That the World Noticed” elevated the significance of three days in June 1963 as major turning points in history. Engel noted, “History is in part the observation of consequential days, tragic and joyous. Americans celebrate July 4 and commemorate Sept. 11. We remember Dec. 7 and honor June 6. In those four days, major events bore consequences that changed the world. But at no time in American history have there been three days like June 10–12, 1963, during which several unrelated events altered the nation’s course as surely as had the attack on Pearl Harbor.”

June 11 and 12, 1963 represented a tide that turned in the battle African-Americans had been waging to obtain civil and equal rights in the United States. All the more significant, 1963 was the bicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation were in the midst of the Civil War President Abraham Lincoln granted freedom to America’s slaves. Freedom did not mean equality, although initially through Reconstruction African-Americans saw gains with the addition of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution soon segregationist Jim Crow laws segregating African-American settled in throughout the South leaving a new form of bondage.

Throughout, African-Americans were slowly fighting back, primarily with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) founded in 1909; the best way to move forward was within the court system. Any gains were minimal until a major victory in the Supreme Court by the landmark ruling of the Brown v Board of Education. The decision declared separate segregated school, were not equal but also illegal.

A legal victory was not a practical one; the south remained unwilling to desegregate their schools, and only 10 percent of schools desegregated by the end of the decade. Desegregation took a turn when in 1957 President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent the National Guard to “enforce the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas.” Afterward, desegregation sped up in public schools, but in every other way of life, it remained at a standstill. In 1960 and 1961, sit-ins and freedom rides attempted to desegregate lunch counters and buses. The gains remained modest under Democrat John F. Kennedy’s presidency despite the sympathetic rhetoric, but only minor action.

The spring of 1963 was paving the way to those two fateful days that would lead to a turning point. The push for desegregation gained momentum with the rise of a charismatic and eloquent leader; Montgomery, Alabama, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King’s non-violent protests became a hallmark of the civil rights movement, and integral part of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which King helped found in 1957, and also served as president. King gained prominence as the leader of the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott in the winter of 1955–56 at just 26.

In the interim, King’s movement would continue to make news, but King again made headlines in the spring of 1963 with a string of protests in Birmingham, Alabama, which King called “probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States.” Throughout the spring, from April 3 to May 10, King along with Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and James Bevel of the SCLC led activists in the Birmingham campaign, who protested with sit-ins, marches and a boycott, most leading to clashes with the local police.

One of the most notable occurred on Good Friday, April 12, 1963, where King was arrested for his 13th time. King would remain in jail for a week staying longer than necessary mostly to publicize the movement. There he wrote his famous treatise “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” the letter was a response to a letter eight religious leaders wrote criticizing him in Birmingham’s newspaper. King defended the movement’s methods and criticizing the leaders saying, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” President Kennedy eventually intervened leading to King’s release on April 20.

The demonstrations continued and the violent tactics of Birmingham’s Commissioner of Public Safety Eugene “Bull” Connor, continued. On May 2, what was later dubbed the “Children’s Crusade,” protest led to nearly 1000 arrests and Connor used “fire hoses and police dogs” on the young school age protesters. The televised images gripped the nation with the New York Times publishing a photo of dogs attacking a 17-year-old student on their front page. At the time Kennedy remarked, “The other problem is the problem of civil rights… What a disaster that picture is. That picture is not only in America but all around the world.”

There was a brief moment of peace, on May 11, civil rights leaders and city and business owners in Birmingham signed the “Birmingham Truce Agreement.” The deal allowed for a “partial desegregation (of fitting rooms, water fountains, and lunch counters in retail stores).” Additionally, those arrested during the campaign would be released, and there would be the creation of a Committee on Racial Problems and Employment.

On the evening of May 11, segregationists most probably members of the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama targeted civil rights leaders with bombs including the home of Rev. A. D. King, movement leader, King’s brother and the Gaston Motel, where King was staying and held a press conference the day before. The non-violence espoused by King turned to violent protests and riots later in the evening.

The violence forced President Kennedy to act; he sent “troops to an Alabama air base” and began the process of “drafting” a proposed civil rights bill to send to Congress. Addressing the nation, Kennedy balked at addressing the larger issue at hand, civil rights. Instead, while addressing the nation Kennedy said, “This Government will do whatever must be done to preserve order, to protect the lives of its citizens, and to uphold the law of the land.” (Brinkley, 106) The morality of civil rights would have to wait a month.

Still, according to historian Nicholas Andrew Bryant in his highly critical book, “The Bystander: John F. Kennedy and the Struggle for Black Equality,” (2006) Kennedy refused to bring about legislation throughout the Birmingham Campaign, and only considered action after the riots broke out. Bryant, who examined the Kennedy civil rights legacy throughout his entire political career, questioned why it took the president over two years to get to the issue and pursue legislation.

Sheldon M. Stern points out that according to Bryant Kennedy had “a willingness to make important symbolic gestures about race and civil rights, coupled with a reluctance to take political risks.” (Hoberek, 79) Bryant also concluded Kennedy’s civil rights record showed a “symbolic approach to the race problem meant that many of the changes he ushered in were largely cosmetic.” (Hoberek, 85) Historian Alan Brinkley writing his biography John F. Kennedy as part of the American Presidents Series concurs, writing that towards civil rights Kennedy had a “pattern of rhetorical activism followed by resistance and delay began on his very first day in office.”

The pivotal moment that changed Kennedy perception on civil rights was viewing African-Americans fighting back with the May 11 race riots. Kennedy could no longer sit idly by; civil rights had also become law and order issues that he could not let go unresolved. Bryant analyzes in his book, “It was the black-on-white violence of May 11 — not the publication of the startling photograph a week earlier — that represented the real watershed in Kennedy’s thinking, and the turning point in administration policy. Kennedy had grown used to segregationist attacks against civil rights protesters. But he — along with his brother and other administration officials — was far more troubled by black mobs running amok.” (Bryant, 393)

A taped conversation between the president and his brother and Attorney General Robert Kennedy from the Oval Office confirmed his motivation. Kennedy indicated on May 12, “First we have to have law and order, so the Negro’s not running all over the city… If the [local Birmingham desegregation] agreement blows up, the other remedy we have under that condition is to send legislation up to Congress this week as our response…As a means of providing relief, we have to have legislation.”

June 11, 1963, was a busy day for the civil rights movement. Earlier, Alabama Governor and strong segregationist George Wallace delivered his “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door Speech.” Alabama was the only state that still did not desegregate their schools, Democrat Wallace entered office earlier in the year promising “Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!” Wallace was unyielding refusing to negotiate and compromise with the Kennedy Administration, hoping instead for a confrontation that would elevate his status, while diminishing Kennedy in the Deep South.

Wallace physically prevented two African American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from completing their registration at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Wallace literally stood in front of the school’s Foster Auditorium door blocking Malone and Hood from entering. Wallace attempted to prevent the university’s integration despite a court order the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

When Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach asked Wallace to move aside, he refused. Instead, Wallace delivered his infamous speech on states’ rights. Wallace called the desegregation an “unwelcomed, unwarranted and force-induced intrusion upon the campus” and “a frightful example of the expression of the rights, privileges, and sovereignty of this state.” (Brinkley, 109) Katzenbach then contacted President Kennedy.

President Kennedy again was forced to federalize the Alabama National Guard Executive Order 11111 to end the conflict. Kennedy issued Presidential Proclamation 3542 to force Wallace to comply and allow the students to enter the university building and complete their registration. Four hours later Wallace finally moved aside after being by Guard General Henry Graham, allowing for the integration of the University. Wallace made national headlines upping his profile, but also forcing Kennedy’s hand that he had no choice left but to announce his intentions to introduce a civil rights bill to Congress.

Kennedy’s address would have an adverse reaction on civil rights leaders. Just hours later in the early morning of June 12, Medgar Evers was assassinated in Jackson, Mississippi. Evers was African-American civil rights activist and the field secretary for the Mississippi state NAACP, who earlier in the day demanded desegregation from local leaders. Byron De La Beckwith, who belonged to the segregated group the White Citizens’ Council, shot Evers in the back as he entered his home after returning from a meeting with NAACP lawyers. Although De La Beckwith was first arrested on June 21, 1963, for Evers’ murder, it took until 1994 for him to be convicted of the crime.

It was against this turmoil in the nation over civil rights that President Kennedy called and booked time on all three major networks for him to speak to the nation at 8 PM EDT on civil rights and the situation in Alabama in his “Report to the American People on Civil Rights.” Kennedy decided the time was ripe to announce his intention to introduce civil rights legislation. As Cohen recounted, “The pretext was Tuscaloosa (today’s confrontation), the context was Birmingham (the unrest there elsewhere that spring), and the subtext was Washington (to make the case for legislation.)” (321)

It was a hastily drafted speech by Ted Sorensen in a mere two hours and revised by Kennedy. Sorenson looked back at past speeches he created for Kennedy on the issue, his own experience, and softened the rhetoric of the past few days. The president’s brother Bobby Kennedy was not pleased with Sorenson’s quickly written speech and even requested civil rights advisor Lee White to assist. The short time to draft the speech made Kennedy nervous, even doubtful if should even deliver it according to White’s observations.

Kennedy’s other poet laureate historian Arthur Schlesinger was nowhere to be found despite attempts to reach him when they did finally reach him it was too late for him to help with the speech. In the end, White did not add to the speech, but aide Louis Martin did, however, Sorenson never gave him authorship credit. The speech was not completed in time, and President Kennedy was receiving pages just as he was about to start. Kennedy determined Sorenson’s speech was too short, and he needed to fill up time, added eight paragraphs “off-the-cuff” (Cohen, 338) to the address, which is considered the best lines. The “moral issue” would be the speech’s overriding theme.

The President told Americans that segregation is a “moral issue” that is wrong. Kennedy stated; “We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution. The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.” President Kennedy accomplished two points in his speech, the introduction of civil rights legislation, and the beginning of significant comprehensive school desegregation.

Kennedy pleaded to the American people that civil rights are the responsibility of all citizens; “It is not enough to pin the blame on others, to say this is a problem of one section of the country or another, or deplore the fact that we face. A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all… Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality.”

Kennedy specifically emphasized the lack of action since the Supreme Court’s decision in 1954. The landmark Brown vs. the Board of Education case ended the legality of the separate but equal system. Kennedy lamented; “Too many Negro children entering segregated grade schools at the time of the Supreme Court’s decision 9 years ago will enter segregated high schools this fall, having suffered a loss which can never be restored. The lack of an adequate education denies the Negro a chance to get a decent job. The orderly implementation of the Supreme Court decision, therefore, cannot be left solely to those who may not have the economic resources to carry the legal action or who may be subject to harassment.”

In his speech, President Kennedy began an active pursuit of Congressional legislation that would end segregation. Kennedy laid out his legislative plans, “Next week I shall ask the Congress of the United States to act, to make a commitment it has not fully made in this century to the proposition that race has no place in American life or law…. I am, therefore, asking the Congress to enact legislation giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public-hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments.”

President Kennedy also introduced the pursuit of the vote for all African-Americans. The president stated, “Other features will be also requested, including greater protection for the right to vote. But the legislation, I repeat, cannot solve this problem alone. It must be solved in the homes of every American in every community across our country.” With his speech that night, Kennedy was pushing in motion not only the Civil Rights Act, but also the subsequent Voting Rights Act passed two years later in 1965 which guaranteed the vote to all Americans.

Kennedy concluded his 15-minute speech with a request for support from the American public for his sweeping and necessary proposals. The proposals were based on Constitutional rights for all Americans. Kennedy expressed to the nation, “Therefore, I am asking for your help in making it easier for us to move ahead and to provide the kind of equality of treatment which we would want ourselves; to give a chance for every child to be educated to the limit of his talents… This is what we are talking about and this is a matter which concerns this country and what it stands for, and in meeting it I ask the support of all our citizens.” Cohen described the speech as “a triumph. These were words written in haste for the ages. It was a knock-down, flat-out masterpiece.” (Cohen, 338) Meanwhile, historian Garth E. Pauley in “The Modern Presidency and Civil Rights” called the speech “the first sustained moral argument by an American President on civil rights.” (Hoberek, 77)

President Kennedy no longer wanted to be the bystander as Bryant called him, but he wanted to take his longtime rhetoric on civil rights and turn it into action. Kennedy told Arthur Schlesinger about his decision to move, then on the bill, he “thought more highly of American Presidents” who emphasized “concrete achievement rather than political education.” Kennedy’s civil rights speech as Cohen indicated, “was the moment a president pivoted. Kennedy was moving from detachment to engagement, from being a transactional president — as political scientists would classify leadership of a certain type a half century later — top a transformative one.” (Cohen, 338)

Kennedy submitted a civil rights bill to Congress the next week on June 19, which historian Robert Dallek in his biography of President Kennedy, an Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963 described as “the most far-reaching civil rights bill in the country’s history.” (Dallek) The law would guarantee the right to vote for all with the minimum of a sixth-grade education, and end discrimination in all public and commercial facilities establishments and accommodations.

Kennedy also requested that the attorney general is granted expanded powers to implement school desegregation, asked to end job discrimination and create job training opportunities and a “community relations service.” Kennedy used the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments of the Constitution to justify the contents of his proposed bill.

The leader of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. approved of President Kennedy’s speech and described it as ‘the most sweeping and forthright ever presented by an American president.’” Initially, King told Reverend Walter Fauntroy who he was watching the speech with, “can you believe that white man not only stepped up to the plate, he hit over the fence!” (Cohen, 339) Publicly King sent Kennedy a wire saying, “I have just listened to your speech to the nation. It was one of the most eloquent, profound and unequivocal pleas for justice and freedom of all men ever made by a president. You spoke passionately for the moral issues involved in the integration struggle.” (Cohen, 339) Kennedy, however, faced a tougher response from Congress.

Still, King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” delivered on August 28, 1963, over two months later during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom would eclipse Kennedy’s speech as the most relevant to advancing civil rights. Although a pivotal moment, the march attended by 200,000 to 300,000, concerned Kennedy who asked King to cancel it, fearing “a big show on the Capitol” would hinder the passage of the civil rights bill. Kennedy even refused to meet with the delegation of civil rights leaders at the White House before the march concerned it could cause demonstrations. Instead, Kennedy opted for meeting King and the other leaders of the major organizations after the march ended that day.

Kennedy was right, he would not see the civil rights bill his administration authored passed into law, or even debated and put to vote on the floor of Congress. President Kennedy continued pushing Congress to pass civil rights legislation with bipartisan support in the following months but to no avail. Civil rights were one of four bills, Kennedy wanted to be passed, but never did in his lifetime, the others were a “tax cut, federal aid to education, and Medicare.” (Cohen, 360) Kennedy’s agenda stalled mostly because of his civil rights bills that led to anger from Southern Democrats and in general from the south. Kennedy would be assassinated months later, on November 23, in Dallas, Texas leaving his Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson from Texas to take over the mantle.

Pursuing civil rights, however, would become central to Kennedy’s legacy. Nevertheless, as Brinkley noted, there was a “harsh and often violent opposition that made it unlikely that his civil rights legislation would succeed soon. His tragic death, and the political skills of Lyndon Johnson, made possible the passage of civil rights and voting rights legislation. But John Kennedy — and the great movement that he finally embraced — was essential to great achievements.” (Brinkley, 112)

President Kennedy’s address to the nation on June 11 altered forever the direction of civil rights in the country. Historian Penial E. Joseph says it “might have been the single most important day in civil rights history.” Joseph also noted, “without the moral forcefulness of the June 11th speech, the bill might never have gone anywhere.” (Hoborek, 78) Without President Kennedy haven taken initial action with this speech and laying out his bold vision and plan to make a civil rights a reality for all Americans, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would never have passed and signed into law on July 2, 1964.

Sources:

Brinkley, Alan. John F. Kennedy. New York: Times Books, 2012.

Bryant, Nick. The Bystander: John F. Kennedy and the Struggle for Black Equality. New York: Basic Books, 2006.

Cohen, Andrew. Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours That Made History. [Toronto, Ontario]: Signal, McClelland & Stewart, 2016.

Dallek, Robert. An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Co, 2003.

Dallek, Robert. John F. Kennedy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Hoberek, Andrew. The Cambridge Companion to John F. Kennedy. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Joseph, Peniel E. “Kennedy’s Finest Moment,” The New York Times, June 10, 2013 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/11/opinion/kennedys-civil-rights-triumph.html. Accessed June 12, 2017.

Pauley, Garth E. The Modern Presidency & Civil Rights: Rhetoric on Race from Roosevelt to Nixon. College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2001.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Radio and Television Report to the American People on Civil Rights
June 11, 1963

Good evening, my fellow citizens:

This afternoon, following a series of threats and defiant statements, the presence of Alabama National Guardsmen was required on the University of Alabama to carry out the final and unequivocal order of the United States District Court of the Northern District of Alabama. That order called for the admission of two clearly qualified young Alabama residents who happened to have been born Negro.

That they were admitted peacefully on the campus is due in good measure to the conduct of the students of the University of Alabama, who met their responsibilities in a constructive way.

I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.

Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. And when Americans are sent to Viet-Nam or West Berlin, we do not ask for whites only. It ought to be possible, therefore, for American students of any color to attend any public institution they select without having to be backed up by troops.

It ought to be possible for American consumers of any color to receive equal service in places of public accommodation, such as hotels and restaurants and theaters and retail stores, without being forced to resort to demonstrations in the street, and it ought to be possible for American citizens of any color to register and to vote in a free election without interference or fear of reprisal.

It ought to be possible, in short, for every American to enjoy the privileges of being American without regard to his race or his color. In short, every American ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated. But this is not the case.

The Negro baby born in America today, regardless of the section of the Nation in which he is born, has about one-half as much chance of completing a high school as a white baby born in the same place on the same day, one-third as much chance of completing college, one-third as much chance of becoming a professional man, twice as much chance of becoming unemployed, about one-seventh as much chance of earning $10,000 a year, a life expectancy which is 7 years shorter, and the prospects of earning only half as much.

This is not a sectional issue. Difficulties over segregation and discrimination exist in every city, in every State of the Union, producing in many cities a rising tide of discontent that threatens the public safety. Nor is this a partisan issue. In a time of domestic crisis men of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics. This is not even a legal or legislative issue alone. It is better to settle these matters in the courts than on the streets, and new laws are needed at every level, but law alone cannot make men see right.

We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.

The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated. If an American, because his skin is dark, cannot eat lunch in a restaurant open to the public, if he cannot send his children to the best public school available, if he cannot vote for the public officials who represent him, if, in short, he cannot enjoy the full and free life which all of us want, then who among us would be content to have the color of his skin changed and stand in his place? Who among us would then be content with the counsels of patience and delay?

One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free. They are not yet freed from the bonds of injustice. They are not yet freed from social and economic oppression. And this Nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.

We preach freedom around the world, and we mean it, and we cherish our freedom here at home, but are we to say to the world, and much more importantly, to each other that this is a land of the free except for the Negroes; that we have no second-class citizens except Negroes; that we have no class or cast system, no ghettoes, no master race except with respect to Negroes?

Now the time has come for this Nation to fulfill its promise. The events in Birmingham and elsewhere have so increased the cries for equality that no city or State or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them.

The fires of frustration and discord are burning in every city, North and South, where legal remedies are not at hand. Redress is sought in the streets, in demonstrations, parades, and protests which create tensions and threaten violence and threaten lives.

We face, therefore, a moral crisis as a country and as a people. It cannot be met by repressive police action. It cannot be left to increased demonstrations in the streets. It cannot be quieted by token moves or talk. It is a time to act in the Congress, in your State and local legislative body and, above all, in all of our daily lives.

It is not enough to pin the blame on others, to say this is a problem of one section of the country or another, or deplore the fact that we face. A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all.

Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality.

Next week I shall ask the Congress of the United States to act, to make a commitment it has not fully made in this century to the proposition that race has no place in American life or law. The Federal judiciary has upheld that proposition in a series of forthright cases. The executive branch has adopted that proposition in the conduct of its affairs, including the employment of Federal personnel, the use of Federal facilities, and the sale of federally financed housing.

But there are other necessary measures which only the Congress can provide, and they must be provided at this session. The old code of equity law under which we live commands for every wrong a remedy, but in too many communities, in too many parts of the country, wrongs are inflicted on Negro citizens and there are no remedies at law. Unless the Congress acts, their only remedy is in the street.

I am, therefore, asking the Congress to enact legislation giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public–hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments.

This seems to me to be an elementary right. Its denial is an arbitrary indignity that no American in 1963 should have to endure, but many do.

I have recently met with scores of business leaders urging them to take voluntary action to end this discrimination and I have been encouraged by their response, and in the last 2 weeks over 75 cities have seen progress made in desegregating these kinds of facilities. But many are unwilling to act alone, and for this reason, nationwide legislation is needed if we are to move this problem from the streets to the courts.

I am also asking Congress to authorize the Federal Government to participate more fully in lawsuits designed to end segregation in public education. We have succeeded in persuading many districts to de-segregate voluntarily. Dozens have admitted Negroes without violence. Today a Negro is attending a State-supported institution in every one of our 50 States, but the pace is very slow.

Too many Negro children entering segregated grade schools at the time of the Supreme Court’s decision 9 years ago will enter segregated high schools this fall, having suffered a loss which can never be restored. The lack of an adequate education denies the Negro a chance to get a decent job.

The orderly implementation of the Supreme Court decision, therefore, cannot be left solely to those who may not have the economic resources to carry the legal action or who may be subject to harassment.

Other features will be also requested, including greater protection for the right to vote. But legislation, I repeat, cannot solve this problem alone. It must be solved in the homes of every American in every community across our country.

In this respect, I want to pay tribute to those citizens North and South who have been working in their communities to make life better for all. They are acting not out of a sense of legal duty but out of a sense of human decency.

Like our soldiers and sailors in all parts of the world they are meeting freedom’s challenge on the firing line, and I salute them for their honor and their courage.

My fellow Americans, this is a problem which faces us all–in every city of the North as well as the South. Today there are Negroes unemployed, two or three times as many compared to whites, inadequate in education, moving into the large cities, unable to find work, young people particularly out of work without hope, denied equal rights, denied the opportunity to eat at a restaurant or lunch counter or go to a movie theater, denied the right to a decent education, denied almost today the right to attend a State university even though qualified. It seems to me that these are matters which concern us all, not merely Presidents or Congressmen or Governors, but every citizen of the United States.

This is one country. It has become one country because all of us and all the people who came here had an equal chance to develop their talents.

We cannot say to 10 percent of the population that you can’t have that right; that your children can’t have the chance to develop whatever talents they have; that the only way that they are going to get their rights is to go into the streets and demonstrate. I think we owe them and we owe ourselves a better country than that.

Therefore, I am asking for your help in making it easier for us to move ahead and to provide the kind of equality of treatment which we would want ourselves; to give a chance for every child to be educated to the limit of his talents.

As I have said before, not every child has an equal talent or an equal ability or an equal motivation, but they should have the equal right to develop their talent and their ability and their motivation, to make something of themselves.

We have a right to expect that the Negro community will be responsible, will uphold the law, but they have a right to expect that the law will be fair, that the Constitution will be color blind, as Justice Harlan said at the turn of the century.

This is what we are talking about and this is a matter which concerns this country and what it stands for, and in meeting it I ask the support of all our citizens.
Thank you very much.

OTD in History… June 10, 1953, President Eisenhower rejects isolationism in the Cold War

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OTD in History… June 10, 1953, President Eisenhower rejects isolationism in the Cold War

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Getty Images

On this day in history June 10, 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower delivered a speech National Junior Chamber of Commerce meeting in Minneapolis where he laid out his “New Look” foreign policy, which rejected isolationism in the Cold War and emphasized nuclear weapons for defense. Eisenhower used his speech to respond to two of his foreign policy critics; Senate Majority Leader Robert Taft (R-Ohio) and Air Force chief of staff Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg. Sixty-five years later, the nation is yet again faced growing isolationism within the Republican Party. President Donald Trump’s presidency is based on an “American First” policy that isolates the country on the world stage and practices protectionism, while he is presently engaged in a trade war with allied nations.

Six months into Eisenhower’s presidency, the United States was still fighting the Korean War, which formed the basis of Taft and Vandenberg’s complaintsto the president. Taft had long been a bone in Eisenhower’s side; Taft was a candidate for the Republican nomination in 1952 and his isolationist views and actions were the reasons Eisenhower decided to run for president. The two were rivals for the nomination, with Taft suspected of trying to block Eisenhower’s nomination at the convention. The two agreed to uneasy peace during the campaign, which did not last once Eisenhower was president. Taft wanted Eisenhower to withdraw from the United Nations, should they fail to make a peace deal with Korea, so that the US can devise their policy to deal with the warring nations which he called “the ‘fortress’ theory of defense.” Meanwhile, Vandenberg objected to Eisenhower’s Defense Secretary Charles Wilson cutting the Air Force’s budget by $5 billion.

Eisenhower “feared,” according to Thomas Zoumaras, in the book, “Reevaluating Eisenhower: American Foreign Policy in the 1950s,” “that an isolationist president would succumb to protectionism.” (p. 156) The President also believed “that world trade and foreign aid, during periods of economic and military crisis would strengthen the anti-Communist alliance system enough to guarantee peace of the U.S. defense budget.” (p. 156) Eisenhower’s “New Look” foreign policy looked to keep the American economy “vital” but “build” defenses to fight the Cold War, maintain nuclear weapons as a “deterrent,” use the CIA for covert actions and maintain and build alliances in the world. Part of the “New Look” policy was the philosophy of “more bang for the buck” when it came to defense spending.

Instead of arguing with Taft and Vandenberg, the President chose to respond to them in his speech National Junior Chamber of Commerce meeting. The speech emphasized national security and did not mention either one by name. Eisenhower declared, “It is no wonder that our national security is so vast a matter-for the struggle in which freedom today is engaged is quite literally a total and universal struggle. It engages every aspect of our lives. It is waged in every arena in which a challenged civilization must fight to live.”

In response to Taft, Eisenhower focused on the Cold War as an international “total struggle,” which “calls for total defense.” The President called the Cold War, “This whole struggle, in the deepest sense, is waged neither for land nor for food nor for power — but for the soul of man himself.” Eisenhower rebuked Taft’s isolationism’s, saying, “There is another theory of defense, another oversimplified concept, which I believe equally misleading and dangerous. It is what we might call the “fortress” theory of defense.” The President emphasized his international approach focusing on “unity,” stating, “We know that only with strength and with unity — is the future of freedom assured. And freedom, now and for the future, is our goal!”

To Vandenburg, he argued that nuclear weapons make the vast arsenals used in World War II useless, and instead, the defense can be more efficient, with the strategy, “fewer planes ‘on order,’ more in the air.” Eisenhower pointed out, “There is no wonderfully sure number of planes or ships or divisions, or billions of dollars, that can automatically guarantee security.” Both Taft and Vandenberg would be out of Eisenhower’s way soon enough; Vandenberg would retire at the end of June, while Taft died of cancer on July 31.

Throughout the Cold War, the US remained internationalists, sometimes too much so. As the country became involved over public objections in conflicts, in Vietnam and more recently Afghanistan and Iraq, Republicans have again developed a more isolationist approach. All of which culminated in Trump’s presidency, which resorts to a large extent to Taft’s views, while ignoring Eisenhower’s successful strategy.

SOURCES

Melanson, Richard A, and David A. Mayers. Reevaluating Eisenhower: American Foreign Policy in the 1950s. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987.

McClenahan, William M, and William H. Becker. Eisenhower and the Cold War Economy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion, and news. She has a over dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

Politics September 8, 2016: Clinton needs to review her history the 1960 debates show that personality matters

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

POLITICS

Clinton needs to review her history the 1960 debates show that personality matters

By Bonnie K. Goodman

kennedy-nixon-debate

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is crying sexism after Republicans criticized her appearance during the NBC News Commander-in-Chief forum on Wednesday evening, Sept. 7, 2016; the problem is Clinton does not know her history. If Clinton knew her presidential campaign history, she would realize that “style” matters even more than “substance” in campaigns ever since the first televised debates in 1960 where Democrat nominee John F. Kennedy went head to head with Republican nominee Richard M. Nixon. Clinton’s comment only show one thing, GOP nominee Donald Trump is right; Clinton is playing the woman card too often.

After the forum, both candidates received lackluster reviews for their performances. The Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus took issue with Clinton and tweeted: “@HillaryClinton was angry + defensive the entire time – no smile and uncomfortable – upset that she was caught wrongly sending our secrets.”

Right away, Twitter erupted calling Priebus’ comment as sexist. Clinton’s campaign responded with a Tweet, “Actually, that’s just what taking the office of President seriously looks like.” The next morning, on Thursday, Sept. 8, Clinton gave a short press conference at the Westchester County Airport in New York where she elaborated working the victim angle. Clinton declared, “I’m going to let all of you ponder that last question. I think there will be a lot of Ph.D. theses and popular journalism writing on that subject for years to come.”

Clinton reporters her demeanor was because “we were talking about serious issues last night.” Continuing her argument about substance over style, saying, “I had a very short window of time in that event last night to convey the seriousness with which I would approach the issues of our country,” she said, before turning the table on her opponents.

Clinton chose to mock her opponent Republican nominee Donald Trump, whose comments drew criticism for substance, but he gave an animated performance that played more to television and the audience. Clinton criticized, “Trump chose to talk about his deep admiration and support for Vladimir Putin. Maybe he did it with a smile, and I guess the RNC would have liked that.”

Clinton might have thought she was taking the high road, emphasizing substance is claiming sexism when any mention of style or personality comes up, but all it shows it how much she does not know her history and the way the presidential campaign game is played. All she needed to do was go back to the first televised presidential debates in 1960 with Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy and then-Vice President Richard Nixon.

Both candidates were young and rising political stars, but Nixon had years more experience and accomplishments than his opponent. The first one-hour Sept. 26 debate, contrasted the two candidates in ways, where it cemented one’s frontrunner status and the other’s demise. Kennedy napped before the event at the Chicago TV station, and appeared rested, tanned, healthy, wore a dark suit, he smiled and spoke directly into the camera. Nixon, in contrast, had a recent knee injury was hospitalized and lost a lot a weight, it showed. Nixon’s gray suit looked too big for him, his makeup caked on, he perspired the makeup dripped; his beard was a shadow, he looked unwell and spoke towards his opponent as opposed the camera.

Seventy million Americans viewed the first debate; two-thirds of the population either watched or listened to the debates on the radio. Those that listened to the debates thought Nixon fared better; his responses were full of substance, facts, and statistics backing his arguments and policy proposals. In contrast, those viewing the debate on TV thought Kennedy won because he mixed style and substance and just appeared healthier and more presidential. The debate raised Kennedy’s profile and was the major turning point in what was a close election.

Nixon faced similar complaints about his demeanor that first debate as Clinton did in the forum. When it was a race between men, the issue was not one of sexism but perception and the new technology. Critics complained about the “cosmetic aspect” television brought to politics and the presidential campaign. Historians now routinely blame Nixon’s composure in comparison to Kennedy’s as the reason he eventually lost the election by such a slim margin. Even Nixon admitted in his memoir “Six Crises,” “I should have remembered that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.'”

The debates influenced politics so much that candidates refrained from them for 16 years, the next televised debates was in 1976 between Democrat Jimmy Carter and incumbent Republican Gerald Ford. Alan Schroeder, the author of “Presidential Debates: 40 Years of High-Risk TV,” indicated “The 1960 debates are the turning point from retail politics –glad handing and meeting everyone face to face — to the politics of mass media.” While, Presidential historian Robert Gilbert told CNN, “Since the age of television, presidents have become like movie stars.” Clinton cannot just cry sexism when she is not playing a game that is over 55 years old properly.

The problem with today’s world is the over politically correct notions that if an unflattering comment is made to a minority could it is discriminatory and derogatory when it is not necessarily. In Hillary’s case, it is not, and if she wants to play the game fairly she has to take the punches regardless of her sex. The Hill noted, “Presidential elections are often decided on personality instead of specific policies.” Personality and style often trump just substance is the consensus among historians and pundits something Clinton has repeatedly failed to learn.

Clinton has to realize her problem is not that she is a woman but her personality; she has never truly come across as warm and friendly throughout her time in the political limelight and always had a likeability problem. During her husband Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign in 1992 and in early in his presidency, she was not deemed traditional first lady material, looking to be a political force rather than the feminine role model the country long expected. It was Bill’s outgoing personality that shone and resonated with the voters and the public.

As Hillary became that type of first lady, the warm, children loving homemaker her star rose, when Bill’s numerous scandals let her be the wronged wife she thrived riding her newfound popularity to a Senate seat in New York and her place on the world political stage. Again, Clinton faced the likeability issue when she tried the first time for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 and her place in the White House. Clinton was long deemed the frontrunner, but then bursting on the scene was the younger and enigmatic Junior Senator from Illinois Barack Obama.

Obama’s whose quest to become the first African-American president eclipsed her journey to break the glass ceiling and become the first woman president. Obama exposed their differences in the last debate before the New Hampshire primary, when Clinton was asked about her “personality deficit” responding Clinton said “Well, that hurts my feelings” but admitted Obama is “very likable,” Obama responded, “You’re likable enough, Hillary.”

Clinton was later caught crying; she parlayed her emotions to win the New Hampshire primary by 12 percent of the vote. The sentence deemed sexist was truthful and summed her ongoing problem with voters, her likeability and personality. Where Clinton stressed her experience, Obama passionately spoke of the future, “hope, and change.” In the end, however, personality and Obama won out.

In 2016, Clinton is again facing a larger than life personality in the form of GOP nominee Donald Trump, a business mogul and veteran reality star, who knows how to play the cameras and the press. Whether his comments are controversial or not Trump monopolizes the news cycle. Again Clinton is facing the substance versus style debate and her demeanor at the NBC forum is just an indication of the problems she will face during the debates.

Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public policy at Princeton University, noted Clinton’s “challenge remains the same as it always has been – show voters who she is and reveal the person beneath the candidate. To win people’s trust and to generate enthusiasm, she has to let some of her character come out.” The likability factor has always been “what she needs to work on.”  When Clinton or her supporters cry sexism they are only taking the easy way out; it is time for them to realize the problem is Clinton, not anybody else.

Sources:

Sabato, Larry, and Howard R. Ernst. Encyclopedia of American Political Parties and Elections. New York: Facts On File, 2006.

History Buzz March 22, 2014: Paul Boller, well-known presidential scholar and a TCU professor emeritus, dies at 97

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Paul Boller, well-known presidential scholar and a TCU professor emeritus, dies at 97

Source: Star-Telegram, 3-22-14

Mr. Boller, a professor emeritus of history at Texas Christian University, died last week in Fort Worth after a brief illness. He was 97….READ MORE

Political Musings February 5, 2014: Obama vs O’Reilly part 2 sparing continued on Fox News fairness, big government

POLITICAL MUSINGS

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama vs O’Reilly part 2 sparing continued on Fox News fairness, big government

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The second part of the confrontational pre-Super Bowl FOX News interview between Bill O’Reilly and President Barack Obama aired Monday evening, Feb. 3, 2014 during the regularly scheduled The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News. After…READ MORE

Political Musings November 27, 2013: Obama pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey at White House ceremony

POLITICAL MUSINGS

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey at White House ceremony

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The next National Thanksgiving Turkey and winner of this year’s annual presidential pardon is… Popcorn. On Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 President Barack Obama with the help of his daughters Malia and Sasha conducted this year’s…READ MORE

History Buzz November 22, 2013: Remembering President John F. Kennedy’s life and speeches

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Remembering JFK’s life and speeches

Source: Deseret News, 11-22-13

Here are two lists that honor JFK, from the most defining moments of his life, to his best speeches….READ MORE

History Buzz July 12, 2013: History Says President Barack Obama Has Time Yet to Make Impact in Second Term

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Says Obama, in Second Term, Has Time Yet to Make Impact

Source: NYT, 7-12-13

The recent history of two-term presidencies shows that things could be a lot better. Or much worse….READ MORE

History Buzz May 16, 2013: Julian Zelizer on President Barack Obama stands against flurry of scandal

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Obama stands against flurry of scandal

Source: Globe & Mail, 5-16-13

…But second-term stumbles could be the mark of a bright future, according to Princeton University history and public affairs professor Julian Zelizer.

“Second-term presidents who have had scandals have gone on to do big things after,” he said. “Reagan had Iran-Contra but he ended up negotiating an end to the Cold War. … [Bill] Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives but went on to have surpluses, mount a military offensive in Yugoslavia and is one of the most popular presidents. Even George Bush, who was very unpopular and had his own scandals, ended up with the passage of [a financial bailout].”

Prof. Zelizer added: “It’s much too early to count [the President] out, not only in terms of survival but in terms of what he can accomplish. There’s still a lot of space for him to be more than just a lame duck.”…READ MORE

History Headlines April 25, 2013: Convergence of Presidents at George W. Bush Library Dedication

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY HEADLINE NEWS

History Buzz

HISTORY MAKING HEADLINES

Convergence of Presidents at Bush Library Dedication

Source: NYT, 4-25-13

From left, President Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter attended the opening ceremony of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on Thursday in Dallas.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

From left, President Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter attended the opening ceremony of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on Thursday in Dallas.

President Obama joined all of his living predecessors on Thursday to pay tribute to George W. Bush….READ MORE

State of the Union 2013 February 12, 2013: Legacy, political calendar frame President Barack Obama’s State of the Union

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/state_union.jpg?w=600

PRESIDENT OBAMA — STATE OF THE UNION 2013:

THE HEADLINES….

Legacy, political calendar frame Obama’s State of the Union

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the House Democratic Issues Conference in Lansdowne, Virginia, February 7, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the House Democratic Issues Conference in Lansdowne, Virginia, February 7, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

President Barack Obama will give his State of the Union address on Tuesday with one eye on the political calendar as time ticks down on his bid to advance an agenda that will help shape his White House legacy.

Just three months after winning re-election on November 6, the Democratic president has a narrow window to push through policy priorities on the economy, immigration reform, and gun control….READ MORE

History Buzz February 12, 2013: Abraham Lincoln’s 204th Birthday Anniversary: Quiz: 10 surprising answers you probably don’t know

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Abraham Lincoln quiz: 10 surprising answers you probably don’t know

Source: 89.3 KPCC (blog), 2-12-13

A jogger takes a break as the early morn

Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

A jogger takes a break as the early morning sun shines into the Lincoln Memorial Aug. 13, 2012, in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, Feb. 12 is Abraham Lincoln’s 204th birthday. There’s a renewed interest in the man considered to be one of the nation’s greatest presidents following Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” which has made over $200 million worldwide. It’s also been nominated for 12 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis’s captivating depiction of Lincoln.

Learn more about the man behind the recent film with a look at some of the surprising, little-known details of his life….READ MORE

State of the Union 2013 February 11, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech & White House Events

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/state_union.jpg?w=600

PRESIDENT OBAMA — STATE OF THE UNION 2013:

THE HEADLINES….

State of the Union 2013: President Obama’s Speech is Just the Beginning

Source: WH, 2-11-13

With Tuesday’s State of the Union address only hours away (9:00 p.m. ET), we’re putting the final touches on a week that’s jam-packed with opportunities to respond to the speech, get answers to your questions and join an online video-chat with the President.

In addition to some things that have been really popular for past “SOTU” Addresses, we’ve got some exciting new features to introduce. Here’s the rundown:

When the President addresses the nation, the White House will provide something you can’t find anywhere else: an enhanced version of the speech that offers charts, facts and other info as the President speaks (check out last year’s here). You can watch live on WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU, through the White House mobile apps for iPhone, Android and iPad, and also on the official White House presences on YouTube, Google+, HuluFacebook, and Ustream. And if you’d like, you can embed the stream on your own site.

The President’s speech is just the beginning; the White House is thrilled to introduce a new tool called Citizen Response that lets you highlight a passage from the State of the Union Address, tell the President how you’re connected to that issue and then share that specific part with your friends.

Citizen Response isn’t the only thing that will launch when the President finishes speaking. As soon as the speech ends, we’ll kick off a discussion about what President Obama said and answer your questions. More than 2,000 people from around the country applied for their chance to join this special #WHSocial in person, and 100 White House followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ representing more than 20 states and from as far as California and Texas have been invited to watch the speech live from the White House and participate in a panel discussion. The panel will be broadcast immediately after the speech on WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU, and you can ask your questions using #WHChat or posting to our Google+ page.

There’s a lot happening on Tuesday, but it’s only the beginning.

On Thursday, President Obama will join the latest in a series of “Fireside Hangouts” – a 21st century take on FDR’s famous radio addresses – to talk about his State of the Union Address. During a completely virtual conversation hosted by Google, the President will answer questions from Americans across the country about the issues and policies laid out in the speech. Anyone can submit a question for the President and vote on your favorites on the White House YouTube channel. Then, be sure to watch the hangout live on Thursday, February 14th at 4:30 p.m. ET on WhiteHouse.gov, the White House Google+ page, and YouTube.com/whitehouse.

And throughout the week, Administration officials will take questions on key issue areas addressed in the President’s speech during an “Open for Questions” marathon. Check out the full schedule:

Tuesday, February 12th:

  • 9:00 p.m. ET: President Obama addresses the nation
  • 10:30 p.m. ET: “Open for Questions” panel

Immediately following the President’s speech, join us for a special “Open for Questions” panel with senior staff, live from the White House. If you have a question about the speech, ask it on Twitter with the hashtag #WHChat or on the White House facebook or Google+ pages.

Wednesday, February 13th:

  • 12:30 p.m. ET: Education with Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education
  • 2:30 p.m. ET: Jobs and the economy with Jason Furman, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council
  • 4:00 p.m. ET: Energy and the environment with Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change

Thursday, February 14th:

  • 4:30 p.m. ET: “Fireside Hangout” with President Obama

Friday, February 15th:

  • 3:00 p.m. ET: Reducing gun violence with Bruce Reed, Chief of Staff to Vice President Biden
  • 4:00 p.m. ET: Immigration reform with Cecilia Munoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council

State of the Union 2013 February 11, 2013: Julian Zelizer: Obama, think big for State of the Union

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/state_union.jpg?w=600

PRESIDENT OBAMA — STATE OF THE UNION 2013:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama, think big for State of the Union

Source: Julian, Zelizer, CNN, 2-11-13
President Obama delivers the State of the Union address to Congress in 2012.

President Obama delivers the State of the Union address to Congress in 2012.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Julian Zelizer: Obama delivers first State of the Union of second term
  • He says it’s an opportunity for president to sketch a broad vision for U.S.
  • Speech comes at a time of continuing economic troubles in America, he says
  • Zelizer: Obama can follow in the footsteps of FDR and LBJ

Editor’s note: Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of “Jimmy Carter” and of “Governing America.”

President Obama is set to deliver the first State of the Union Address of his new term. On Tuesday evening, he will step before a joint session of Congress and a nation in difficult times.

Unemployment rose in January to 7.9%. There are signs of economic progress, but millions of Americans are struggling to find a job while others are desperate to keep the one they have….READ MORE

History Buzz February 6, 2013: Remembering President Ronald Reagan at 102: Things You Might Not Have Known

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Remembering President Ronald Reagan

Source: ABC News, 2-6-13

PHOTO: Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan speaks at a rally for Senator Durenberger February 8, 1982.
Michael Evans/The White House/Getty Images

On February 6, 1984, on his 73rd birthday, President Ronald Reagan said, “Birthdays are special moments, and you’ve given me one today. But I must tell you, even though this is the 34th anniversary of my 39th birthday, those numbers don’t faze me at all. I believe Moses was 80 when God first commissioned him for public service. And I also remember something that Thomas Jefferson once said. He said, ‘We should never judge a president by his age, only by his works.’ And ever since he told me that, I’ve stopped worrying.”

The President

Reagan, at age 69, was the oldest person elected to a first term.

Here are some things to remember about the 40th president:

PHOTO: Candidates in Movies
AP Photo

The Star

As a young boy Ronald’s nickname was “Dutch.” The nickname was given to him by his father, Jack Reagan, because of his Dutchboy haircut.

PHOTO: Newlyweds Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan cut their wedding cake at the Holden's house in Toluca Lake, California on March 4. 1952.

Ronald Reagan Library

The Husband

Regan married two different actresses and had a daughter and a son with each.

PHOTO: President Ronald Reagan gestures during a news conference in the White House East Room on June 15, 1984, Washington, D.C.
Ira Schwarz/AP Photo

The Soldier

Reagan enlisted in the Army Reserve and was commissioned a second lieutenant.

PHOTO: Ronald Reagan (1911-–2004), wearing a beige jacket with dark blue shirt with a wide collar, and his wife, Jane Wyman (1917-2007), U.S. actress, wearing a red coat with a dark blue neckscarf and black leather gloves, both smiling, circa 1945.

Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

The Ex- Husband

Reagan is the only U.S. president to have divorced his wife. Reagan and Jane Wyman divorced in 1947.

PHOTO: Newly elected President Ronald Reagan dances with his wife Nancy at the Inaugural Ball on Jan. 20, 1981.

Dirck Halstead/Getty Images

The Candy Lover

President Reagan was known for his penchant for Jelly beans. His favorite Jelly Belly flavor was licorice.

PHOTO: File photo of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan as he prepares a speech at his desk in the Oval Office April 28, 1981.
Michael Evans/The White House/Getty Images

The Lefty

Ronald Reagan was left handed. James Garfield, Herbert Hoover, Henry Truman, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were also lefty commander in chiefs.

History Buzz February 6, 2013: President Reagan’s legacy lives on as he;s remembered on his 102nd birthday

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

President Reagan’s legacy lives on as he’s remembered on his 102nd birthday

Source: Washington Times, 2-6-13

Ronald Reagan on the Heritage Foundation Facebook Page

Within hours of launch, thousands of well-wishers had already signed the virtual birthday card for Ronald Reagan — who would have turned 102 Wednesday — posted on a specially created Facebook page from The Heritage Foundation to commemorate the nation’s 40th president….READ MORE

History Buzz February 6, 2013: Ronald Reagan at 102

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Ronald Reagan at 102

Source: Heritage.org (blog) , 2-6-13

Ronald Reagan, who would have turned 102 today, was elected in 1980 with a mandate to reverse the “stagflation” of the Carter era….READ MORE

History Buzz January 21, 2012: Michael Beschloss: Barack Obama Joins Club of 16 Presidents Elected to Consecutive Terms: If You Thought Getting Elected the First Time Was Hard…

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

If You Thought Getting Elected the First Time Was Hard …

Source: PBS Newshour, 1-21-13

Meet the 16 men who have been elected to serve consecutive terms as president.

When he retakes the oath of office Monday, President Barack Obama will join an exclusive club. Obama becomes the 16th of the nation’s 44 presidents who’ve been re-elected to serve as commander-in-chief for two consecutive terms….

“Nowadays the problems are great and Americans are more inclined to blame presidents, especially for a bad economy, than they would a hundred years ago,” explains Michael Beschloss, presidential historian and NewsHour regular….

“[Richard] Nixon felt that the difference between a re-elected president in history and a one-term president in history was so great that he felt compelled to authorize the excesses that led to the Watergate scandal,” Beschloss says….

“Sometimes you wonder why presidents would like to have a second term when you realize from FDR on, [they] have almost consistently had some very horrible experiences after winning re-election,” Beschloss says.

History Buzz January 20, 2013: David McCullough: Gerald Ford among greatest presidents, famed historian says as Obama inauguration nears

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Gerald Ford among greatest presidents, famed historian says as Obama inauguration nears

Source: MLive, 1-20-13

gerald r. ford.JPGGerald R. Ford announcing the pardon of Richard M Nixon from the Oval Office Sept. 8, 1974. The pardon has led one historian to deem Ford one of the greatest presidents. AP File Photo

The decision by Grand Rapids native and former President Gerald R. Ford to pardon his disgraced predecessor after the Watergate scandal has put him in the pantheon of great presidents.

That’s according to noted historian David McCullough, speaking to CBS News’s Barry Petersen, who cited Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon as “one of the bravest decisions ever” as reason for his claim….READ MORE

History Buzz January 20, 2013: David McCullough: Leading the Way: Presidential Leadership & History

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Leading the way: Presidential leadership

Source: CBS News, This Morning, 1-20-13

LEADING THE WAY is what we expect of our presidents. How successful any individual president has actually BEEN is a matter of debate historically, as is the entire question of what constitutes great leadership in the first place. 

We laugh with them, we cry with them . . . and with Hollywood’s help from movies like “The American President,” we heap on them our greatest expectations.

Presidential leadership is Colorado College professor Thomas Cronin’s specialty, and he is struck by America’s perhaps too-perfect wish list for a president.

“It seems like an amalgam of wanting Mother Teresa, Mandela, Rambo, the Terminator and Spider-Man all wrapped into one,” he said. “It’s a pretty outlandish job description.”

David McCullough has written extensively on our greatest presidents, among them, John Adams….READ MORE

History Buzz January 19, 2013: Doris Kearns Goodwin: 10 inaugural moments that mattered

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

10 inaugural moments that mattered

Source: CNN, 1-19-13

Barack Obama is sworn in as the first African-American president of the United States on January 20, 2009. Barack Obama is sworn in as the first African-American president of the United States on January 20, 2009.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    • 2009: “(It was) as if the whole history of our country was coming full circle”
    • FDR and Reagan disagreed on the role of government, but believed America could do great things
    • JFK’s address promised action and a new energy in Washington
    • Lincoln: “With malice toward none and charity toward all”

Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin notes each inauguration is moving in its own way, but only a few produce moments that are truly memorable.

“It depends upon the person and the occasion to really produce a historic inaugural speech,” Goodwin said. “But the ceremony itself … is a real tribute to the country, that a person who was the president can go out and become a private citizen (while) a new private citizen is becoming the president.”

“It’s peaceful,” she says, and “that’s an extraordinary thing in the history of our world.”

Here are 10 inaugural moments that Goodwin says have stood the test of time:

  • 2009: Obama makes history
  • 1981: Reagan’s optimistic first inaugural speech
  • 1977: Carter’s long walk
  • 1961: JFK’s stirring address
  • 1945: FDR’s abbreviated wartime ceremony
  • 1933: FDR’s dramatic first inaugural speech
  • 1905: TR’s eclectic parade
  • 1865: Lincoln strives to unite North and South 
  • 1841: The tragedy of William Henry Harrison 
  • 1789: Washington sets the tone

READ MORE

George W. Bush stands next to his wife, Laura, and his two daughters at his second inauguration on January 20, 2005. George W. Bush stands next to his wife, Laura, and his two daughters at his second inauguration on January 20, 2005.
George W. Bush is sworn in for his first term on January 20, 2001. George W. Bush is sworn in for his first term on January 20, 2001.
Bill Clinton is sworn in for the second time on January 20, 1997. Bill Clinton is sworn in for the second time on January 20, 1997.
Bill Clinton takes his first inaugural oath on January 20, 1993. Bill Clinton takes his first inaugural oath on January 20, 1993.
Chief Justice William Rehnquist administers the oath of office to President George H. W. Bush on January 20, 1989.  Chief Justice William Rehnquist administers the oath of office to President George H. W. Bush on January 20, 1989.
Ronald Reagan is sworn in on January 21, 1985, at the U.S. Capitol for his second term by Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger. Ronald Reagan is sworn in on January 21, 1985, at the U.S. Capitol for his second term by Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger.
Ronald Reagan is sworn in as 40th president of the United States on January 20, 1981. Ronald Reagan is sworn in as 40th president of the United States on January 20, 1981.
Jimmy Carter is sworn in on January 20, 1977. Jimmy Carter is sworn in on January 20, 1977.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger swears in Gerald Ford on August 9, 1974, after the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger swears in Gerald Ford on August 9, 1974, after the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
Chief Justice Warren E. Burger administers the oath of office to Richard M. Nixon for his second term at the U.S. Capitol, January 20, 1973. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger administers the oath of office to Richard M. Nixon for his second term at the U.S. Capitol, January 20, 1973.
Richard Nixon takes the oath of office as he is sworn in as the 37th president of the United States on January 20, 1969. Richard Nixon takes the oath of office as he is sworn in as the 37th president of the United States on January 20, 1969.
Lyndon B. Johnson, left, is sworn in for his second term by Chief Justice Earl Warren on January 20, 1965. Lyndon B. Johnson, left, is sworn in for his second term by Chief Justice Earl Warren on January 20, 1965.
Lyndon B. Johnson takes the oath of office on November 22, 1963, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy's widow, Jacqueline, stands at Johnson's side. U.S. District Judge Sarah T. Hughes swore in Johnson on Air Force One. Lyndon B. Johnson takes the oath of office on November 22, 1963, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy’s widow, Jacqueline, stands at Johnson’s side. U.S. District Judge Sarah T. Hughes swore in Johnson on Air Force One.
John F. Kennedy is sworn in on January 20, 1961. John F. Kennedy is sworn in on January 20, 1961.
A crowd gathers outside the U.S. Capitol for Dwight D. Eisenhower's second inauguration on January 20, 1957. A crowd gathers outside the U.S. Capitol for Dwight D. Eisenhower’s second inauguration on January 20, 1957.
Dwight D. Eisenhower takes the oath of office on January 20, 1953. Dwight D. Eisenhower takes the oath of office on January 20, 1953.
President Harry S. Truman waves to the crowd from a car during a parade after his inauguration speech on January 20, 1949. President Harry S. Truman waves to the crowd from a car during a parade after his inauguration speech on January 20, 1949.
Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone administers the oath of office to Harry S. Truman in the Cabinet Room of the White House on April 12, 1945, after death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone administers the oath of office to Harry S. Truman in the Cabinet Room of the White House on April 12, 1945, after death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his fourth and final inauguration speech on January 20, 1945. He was the last president allowed to hold more than two terms. Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his fourth and final inauguration speech on January 20, 1945. He was the last president allowed to hold more than two terms.
Franklin D. Roosevelt gives his third inaugural address on January 20, 1941. Franklin D. Roosevelt gives his third inaugural address on January 20, 1941.
Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes Sr. administers the oath of office to Franklin D. Roosevelt for his second term on January 20, 1937. This marked the first January event; before this, inaugurations were traditionally held in March. Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes Sr. administers the oath of office to Franklin D. Roosevelt for his second term on January 20, 1937. This marked the first January event; before this, inaugurations were traditionally held in March.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt is sworn in for his first term on March 4, 1933.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt is sworn in for his first term on March 4, 1933.
Herbert Hoover's inauguration is held on March 4, 1929. Herbert Hoover’s inauguration is held on March 4, 1929.
Calvin Coolidge is sworn in for his second term on March 4, 1925. Calvin Coolidge is sworn in for his second term on March 4, 1925.
Calvin Coolidge is given the oath of office by his father, Col. John Coolidge, in Plymouth, Vermont, on August 3, 1923, after the death of President Warren G. Harding. Calvin Coolidge is given the oath of office by his father, Col. John Coolidge, in Plymouth, Vermont, on August 3, 1923, after the death of President Warren G. Harding.
Warren G. Harding is sworn in on March 4, 1921. Warren G. Harding is sworn in on March 4, 1921.
Soldiers pass the viewing stand during the inaugural ceremony for Woodrow Wilson's second term on March 4, 1917. Soldiers pass the viewing stand during the inaugural ceremony for Woodrow Wilson’s second term on March 4, 1917.
Woodrow Wilson's first inauguration was held on March 4, 1913. Woodrow Wilson’s first inauguration was held on March 4, 1913.
William Howard Taft was inaugurated on March 4, 1909. William Howard Taft was inaugurated on March 4, 1909.
Theodore Roosevelt takes the oath of office for his second term on March 4, 1905. Theodore Roosevelt takes the oath of office for his second term on March 4, 1905.
Theodore Roosevelt takes the oath of office in Buffalo, New York, on September 14, 1901, after the assassination of President William McKinley. Theodore Roosevelt takes the oath of office in Buffalo, New York, on September 14, 1901, after the assassination of President William McKinley.
Chief Justice Melville Fuller administers the oath of office to President William McKinley for his second term on March 4, 1901. Chief Justice Melville Fuller administers the oath of office to President William McKinley for his second term on March 4, 1901.
William McKinley takes his first the oath of office on March 4, 1897. William McKinley takes his first the oath of office on March 4, 1897.
Grover Cleveland's second inauguration is held on March 4, 1893. Grover Cleveland’s second inauguration is held on March 4, 1893.
Chief Justice Melville W. Fuller administers the oath of office to Benjamin Harrison on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1889. Harrison served between Cleveland's two terms. Chief Justice Melville W. Fuller administers the oath of office to Benjamin Harrison on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1889. Harrison served between Cleveland’s two terms.
Grover Cleveland delivers his first inaugural address to the crowd on the east portico of U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1885. Grover Cleveland delivers his first inaugural address to the crowd on the east portico of U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1885.
New York Supreme Court Justice John R. Brady administers the oath of office to Vice President Chester A. Arthur in a private ceremony in Arthur's residence in New York on September 20, 1881, after the assassination of President James A. Garfield. New York Supreme Court Justice John R. Brady administers the oath of office to Vice President Chester A. Arthur in a private ceremony in Arthur’s residence in New York on September 20, 1881, after the assassination of President James A. Garfield.
Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite administers the oath of office to James A. Garfield on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1881. Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite administers the oath of office to James A. Garfield on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1881.
Rutherford B. Hayes takes the oath of office from Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol on March 5, 1877. Rutherford B. Hayes takes the oath of office from Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol on March 5, 1877.
Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase administers the oath of office for Ulysses S. Grant's second term on March 4, 1873. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase administers the oath of office for Ulysses S. Grant’s second term on March 4, 1873.
Ulysses S. Grant takes his first oath of office, administered by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 4, 1869. Ulysses S. Grant takes his first oath of office, administered by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 4, 1869.
Andrew Johnson takes the oath of office from Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase in Washington on April 15, 1865, after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  Andrew Johnson takes the oath of office from Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase in Washington on April 15, 1865, after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln take the oath of office for the second time on March 4, 1865. Abraham Lincoln take the oath of office for the second time on March 4, 1865.
The first inauguration of Abraham Lincoln takes place on March 4, 1861. The first inauguration of Abraham Lincoln takes place on March 4, 1861.
James Buchanan's inauguration is held at the U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1857. James Buchanan’s inauguration is held at the U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1857.
Chief Justice Roger B. Taney administers the oath of office to Franklin Pierce on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1853. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney administers the oath of office to Franklin Pierce on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1853.
Millard Fillmore was sworn in on July 10, 1850, after the death of President Zachary Taylor. Millard Fillmore was sworn in on July 10, 1850, after the death of President Zachary Taylor.
Zachary Taylor is sworn in on March 5, 1849. Zachary Taylor is sworn in on March 5, 1849.
James K. Polk was sworn in on March 4, 1845. James K. Polk was sworn in on March 4, 1845.
John Tyler took the oath of office on April 6, 1841, after the death of William Henry Harrison, who died after just 32 days in office. John Tyler took the oath of office on April 6, 1841, after the death of William Henry Harrison, who died after just 32 days in office.
William Henry Harrison took the oath of office on March 4, 1841. William Henry Harrison took the oath of office on March 4, 1841.
Martin Van Buren was inaugurated on March 4, 1837. Martin Van Buren was inaugurated on March 4, 1837.
Andrew Jackson was sworn in for his second term on March 4, 1833. Andrew Jackson was sworn in for his second term on March 4, 1833.
Andrew Jackson was inaugurated for his first term on March 4, 1829, on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol. Andrew Jackson was inaugurated for his first term on March 4, 1829, on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol.
John Quincy Adams was sworn into office on March 4, 1825. John Quincy Adams was sworn into office on March 4, 1825.
James Monroe was sworn in for his second term on March 4, 1821. James Monroe was sworn in for his second term on March 4, 1821.
James Monroe was sworn in for his first term on March 4, 1817. James Monroe was sworn in for his first term on March 4, 1817.
James Madison was inaugurated for his second term on March 4, 1813. James Madison was inaugurated for his second term on March 4, 1813.
James Madison was sworn in for his first term on March 4, 1809. James Madison was sworn in for his first term on March 4, 1809.
Thomas Jefferson was sworn in for his second term on March 4, 1805. Thomas Jefferson was sworn in for his second term on March 4, 1805.
Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated for his first term on March 4, 1801. Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated for his first term on March 4, 1801.
John Adams was inaugurated on March 4, 1797. John Adams was inaugurated on March 4, 1797.
George Washington stands outside his carriage at his second inauguration on March 4, 1793. George Washington stands outside his carriage at his second inauguration on March 4, 1793.
Sword by his side, George Washington takes his inaugural oath as the first president of the United States on April 30, 1789. Sword by his side, George Washington takes his inaugural oath as the first president of the United States on April 30, 1789.

History Buzz January 18, 2013: From Carter to Obama: Covering Inaugural Addresses

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

From Carter to Obama: Covering Inaugural Addresses With the NewsHour

Source: PBS Newshour, 1-18-13

When it comes to inaugurals, the circumstances often outweigh the event. The weather is cold, the incoming presidents and their families all seem to have mastered the same genteel wave — famously employed by international royalty and pageant queens — and the speeches tend to be, well, less than exciting.

Of course, there are exceptions.

Looking back over the years, we can recall some of the better parades, the fashion and the balls (who can forget George H.W. Bush breaking it down with Lee Atwater in 1989?). But for us, it’s all about the speeches. And not all speeches are created, or delivered, equal. We look back at those speeches we covered and our reactions to them….READ MORE

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